Jennifer Rubin reports that Richard Grenell, the openly gay spokesman on foreign policy issues for the Romney campaign, has now stepped down after an uproar from anti-gay conservatives over the appointment.
Grenell, who sparked controversy with a series of tasteless tweets about women, was said to have been kept under wraps by the campaign ever since the appointment began creating controversy. But the Romney campaign has insisted that Grenell was not pushed from his post, and that Romney advisers tried to get him to stay on.
But all this raises a question: Why was Grenell completely absent from the public stage in the last few days, when his subject area — foreign policy issues — were front and center in the political conversation?
Ari Fleischer, a former Bush administration official and one of Grenell’s most vocal defenders, raised that question in a telephone interview moments ago.
“Why wasn’t Rick the spokesman in the last couple of days, when foreign policy was paramount? That’s the piece I don’t understand,” Fleischer said. “I don’t know why he wasn’t the spokesman on foreign policy for the last several days. It’s something that nobody understands.”
The question many are asking is whether Grenell’s departure demonstrates Romney’s weakness, his unwillingness to stand up to social conservatives. The Romney campaign insists he’d been asked to stay. But there’s the matter of Grenell’s low profile in recent days. It’s entirely possible it had nothing to do with conservative pressure over Grenell. But it seems like more will be coming out about this before long.